Talk with your child to determine a specific time of day reserved for homework. The chosen time must be respected throughout the school year. Having a schedule creates a routine or work habit that your youngster will follow throughout their school years. Try identifying the time of day when your child’s concentration level is at its peak. For some children, it’s immediately after school, when the new information is still fresh in their memory, while others need to clear their head before jumping into homework. It’s also important to check the availability of the parent in charge of supervising the child’s homework. Refer to the schedule as much as possible and hang it in a place where you and your child can see it.
Choose a quiet place, away from all distractions (television, computer, video games, etc.) and the coming and going of other family members. If you have young children (7-8 years old), it’s best to set it up close to your activities (kitchen or living room). When they’re older (9-17 years old), they can do their homework and study in their room without distractions. It is crucial that each child has their own study space. Your child has to understand that the study corner is not a playroom, but rather a place to concentrate. With time, your little student will develop good studying habits. Also make sure that the work surface is large enough for all their school material and that it’s clean, at the right height and with adequate lighting.
Free a cupboard, drawer or shelf to allow your child to store their homework kit: pencils, erasers, dictionary, ruler, etc. This will save them precious time every night when they do their homework.
Give your child time to get settled before starting their homework. They need 5 to 10 minutes to empty their backpack, take a look at their homework sheet or agenda and finally get organized. Once your child has had the time to do so, you can sit down with them and take a look at the assignments (take a look at the autonomy chart below). This is when the scheduled homework time starts.
Have a basket in which your child can put the papers that require a parent’s signature. This should be their responsibility.
Supervising your child’s homework does not mean sitting by their side all the time. In fact, it’s important to stimulate your child’s sense of autonomy in order for them to become a responsible student. While your child is doing their homework, start a task of your own, otherwise, your child will expect you to be by their side all the time!
Take a look at the expected degree of autonomy, according to the school level:
- 1st and 2nd grade: direct help, reading the instructions
- 3rd grade: supervision
- 4th, 5th and 6th grade: light supervision
- High school: weekly supervision, direct help for individual projects
What not to do
- Emptying the school bag yourself. It may be faster, but your child will not develop their autonomy.
- Correcting the mistakes in your child’s homework will only be detrimental to them. The teacher uses homework to evaluate your child’s understanding of the subject.
- Doing your child’s homework. Doing so would make homework time very unpleasant for you in the long run.
Congratulate your child not only on their successes but also on their efforts. It will help boost their self-confidence. The mere fact of being available during homework time indicates an interest on your part to their school work and will contribute to a good relationship and communication between you and your child.
When they refuse to do their homework
Some children firmly refuse to do their homework, pretending that they did it at school or that the teacher didn’t give any. The next day, they’ll give their teacher a bunch of excuses to justify why they didn’t do the assignment. Beware of manipulation!
- Insist on seeing the completed homework yourself.
- Consult the homework sheet or agenda.
- Contact the teacher if the problem persists.
- If your child’s opposition persists, use your parental authority. Don’t give in.
Your child forgot their homework/books at school
This is often another popular excuse not to do homework.
- If your child is young, use a checklist as a tool to help them remember what to bring home from school.
- Force your child to still spend the scheduled time in their study corner for the required time. They can either read a book or practice their math. They will understand soon enough that time goes by a lot faster when they are doing their homework and that they can’t use that time to play.
- Contact your child’s teacher if the problem persists.
Your help is important!
Finally, don’t delegate this responsibility, which is part of your parenting role. Team up with the school staff and oversee your child’s homework time to help them become a responsible student. Use these 5 rules wisely and your child will slowly but surely develop great work habits. You may even turn these sometimes difficult moments into bonding time with your child.
Some schools in Québec give conferences to parents who wish to learn new strategies to better manage homework time. They usually consist of 3 or 4 meetings in the presence of your child, where you can practice on site and get specific tips on your mistakes. If you have the possibility to attend, please do. Parents usually find these conferences very helpful.